Global tech giant Microsoft is taking on Canva with a new free graphic design app in Microsoft 365.
A web preview of the Designer app is already available for early use, with the company’s corporate VP, Liat Ben-Zur, say the app grew out of PowerPoint, where Designer uses AI to make template suggestions as you build a presentation.
“Microsoft Designer is powered by AI technology, including: DALLE 2 by OpenAI, meaning you can instantly generate a variety of designs with minimal effort. Our advanced AI will boost your ideas,” she said.
“Depending on the type of content, Designer in PowerPoint offers several options for you to choose from. In fact, over eight billion slide designs (and more) have been saved by our customers with Designer in PowerPoint. We are excited to extend that legacy by adding the latest cutting edge text to image AI, with the new Designer app.”
Ben-Zur said they want people to try it now and provide feedback to “make it great,” with plans to integrate Designer into Microsoft Edge as well.
The current free preview doesn’t include all the planned features coming; we will add more over time. Once the app is ready for general availability, it will be available both as a free app and with more premium features available to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers,” she said.
“With Designer, you no longer have to spend time creating cards or social media posts. And you no longer have to search through thousands of ready-made templates. Designer invites you to start with an idea and let the AI do the heavy lifting.
“For example with ‘start from scratch’ in Designer, you can simply describe an image you want to see, and the app does the work for you to create something totally unique. As you work in Designer, every surface of the app is powered by AI to ensure consistent, aligned, well-scaled and beautiful designs, even with or without inherent design capabilities.”
The announcement last week came as Microsoft Fulling integrated its acquisition of Australian video startup Clipchamp into its 365 ecosystem.
Dubbed the ‘Canva of video’ by investor Steve Baxter, the deal was announced last September to acquire the Queensland startup for an undisclosed sum.
Ben-Zur said: Microsoft 365 subscribers can access premium features within Clipchamp at no additional cost.
“We realize that creators not only want to create beautiful logos, social media posts and invitations, but also want to create great videos,” she said.
“For the first time, the Microsoft 365 suite of apps includes a free video editor so you can create beautiful videos in no time. Whether it’s a daily vlog, viral dance video, family video or highlight reel, Clipchamp helps you quickly and easily merge video, sound and effects.”
“It’s the ultimate creator launchpad that brings together the power of our content creation apps — from Designer to Clipchamp to PowerPoint to Word and more,” says Ben-Zur.
“Create can help you get inspired and improve your skills with professional templates, curated articles and videos from others who have been in your shoes. We are excited to bring this new website to help you learn something new about the creating content.”
Fight against canvas
The new suite of design software meets Canva right after the privately-owned Australian startup recently announced a range of new publishing features, having launched a PowerPoint rival last year and a Word challenger introduced in September.
On the same day that Microsoft released its upgrades, Canva announced that it now had 100 million monthly users.
Canva’s valuation was recently cut by 36% by leading local investors, putting the global design giant at $25.6 billion, down $14.4 billion from its $40 billion valuation at its last raise in September. . However, due to a declining Aussie dollar against the greenback, Canva’s valuation in AUD terms has risen 10% to $41 billion in the past two months.
Microsoft also announced another weapon in its product arsenal last week, with the launch of Microsoft Bing’s Image Creator. It uses the same DALL∙E 2-powered image generator technology in the Microsoft Designer app to bring ideas to life. Just type in a description of something, any additional context like location or activity, and an art style, and Image Creator will create it.
This week, Adobe, another global technology brand targeted by Canva, announced a range of product upgrades and collaboration tools at the Adobe Max conference in California.